Nutrition and The Role It Plays in Recovering from Injury
by Aimee Keller, PT, DPT

Unfortunately, all of us experience pain or an injury at some point in our lives. As therapists, we recommend exercises and techniques to reduce pain and properly heal, but your nutrition also plays a major role in your recovery. 

After an injury or surgery, your body is using more energy to heal itself, and therefore, requires up to a 20% increase in calorie intake. These extra calories, of course, should be nutritious foods that promote healing.


Protein-rich foods aide in stimulating muscle growth. Foods high in protein include:

  • Cheese
  • Meat (pork, chicken, fish)
  • Nuts and seeds

When injured, our bodies are also experiencing an increase in inflammation. Eating foods that help reduce inflammation is beneficial. Anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, fish)
  • Pecans
  • Berries
  • Garlic
  • Dark chocolate (yay!)

Greasy, fried foods and processed meats (pepperoni, salami, bologna, hot dogs) increase the amount of inflammation in the body. These foods are best to be avoided at all times, with or without an injury, to prevent excess inflammation throughout your body.

Additionally calcium and vitamin D consumption is vital to bone healing following a fracture. Calcium and Vitamin D rich foods that help promote bone healing include:

  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • Kale
  • Salmon
  • Broccoli


And we cannot talk about proper nutrition without discussing the importance of staying hydrated. Every system in our body uses water. Water is crucial in allowing our bodies function properly and to heal after an injury.

Sometimes staying hydrated can be difficult. Here are some tips to remind you to drink water throughout the day:

  • Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day
  • Add a lemon or lime wedge to add flavor (without adding unnecessary calories and sugar)
  • When feeling hungry, try drinking water to curb hunger

Some things to look out for that may indicate you are dehydrated:

  • Dark, amber colored urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

The combination of proper diet and exercise is important in our daily lives, with or without presence of injury. If you need help recovering from an injury reach out to the movement experts at Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy online or at 866-588-0230.